Upon reverting back to general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) has begun utilizing public utility bus (PUB) units with passenger doors located on the left side for trips along the main EDSA thoroughfare.
The Mega Manila Consortium, one of the two consortiums operating the EDSA Busway route, reported that 3 units from HM Transport Inc., with both left-side and right-side passenger doors, were launched last Wednesday, August 19. 7 more units with the same configuration shall be dispatched within September. Meanwhile, RRCG, will likewise add more left-entry buses next week.
According to DOTr Assistant Secretary for Road Transport and Infrastructure Steve Pastor, the arrangement between their agency and among private bus companies for the use of such units was created to ensure safe service for the commuting public.
“These bus units will better accommodate commuters who will now be using the new loading and unloading bus stops located in the innermost lane of EDSA. Aside from the installation of canopies and lighting fences, we have also placed concrete barriers and steel separators on EDSA’s median lanes to ensure utmost safety and comfort,” Asec. Pastor said.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) Chairman Martin Delgra III meanwhile reported that a total of 3,662 units and opened 31 traditional City Bus routes in Metro Manila.
According to him, alongside the operation of PUBs, the LTFRB has also opened other routes and approved more units of public transportation that includes modern and traditional public utility jeepneys (PUJS), UV Express (UVE) vehicles, Point-to-Point Buses (P2Ps), Transport Network Vehicles services (TNVS), and TAXI services.
“For modern PUJs, 716 units have begun operating in 45 routes; while for traditional PUJs, the LTFRB has allowed the operation of an additional 4,498 units in 60 routes. This brings the total number of authorized traditional PUJs to 12,443 in 126 routes,” Chairman Delgra said
“Meanwhile, an additional 4 routes with 641 units have been authorized for UV Express, which totals to 1,621 authorized UVEs currently plying in 51 routes. While 364 units of P2P buses are operating in 33 routes, with 20,493 taxis and 23,776 TNVS ferrying passengers in the Metro,” Delgra added.
All units of road transport are still required to strictly follow the existing health guidelines and safety protocols provided by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
All forms of road public transportation will follow a limited passenger capacity of 50%, while maintaining physical distancing and sanitary practices in their vehicles. The DOTr is ensuring that law enforcers and on-ground marshals are monitoring all public transport vehicles. Otherwise, penalties will be dealt to those caught breaking the rules, Pastor emphasized.
Commuters, on the other hand, are now required to wear a face shield on top of their face masks in order to be permitted to travel—be it on land, sea, or air— as mandated by the newly issued Memorandum Circular No. 2020-14 of the DOTr. The new requirement took effect upon the reallowing of public transportation last August 18.
Aside from Metro Manila, the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, and Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, the cities of Iloilo, Cebu, Lapu Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay, and the municipalities of Minglanilla and Consolacion in Cebu province are now also placed under GCQ.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Philippines are under a lenient modified general community quarantine.